I love Pacific Grove Triathlon, so I may not be the best person to offer an unbiased opinion of the race. Since you generally love races where you’ve won twice (!), my take may be a little distorted. Still, it’s a popular Olympic-distance triathlon — and a popular triathlon for first-timers (god knows why) — so this is my opinion about what you need to know about the race.
It’s great! Do it! Oh, right, details…
The Expo: No idea, I showed up 45′ before the start.
I don’t know why people care about the expo, but they do. And, as long as people care, race organizers will continue to stick a few dozen tents together at the start/finish. Maybe it’s because it makes racers feel like they’re a big deal? This expo had all your standard few dozen triathlon tents: massage from some massage school, Sports Basement, PowerBar, guy selling high-end bikes — which always cracks me up because who gets to a race and is like, ‘oh shit, I forgot a bike.’ I laugh, but I did end up borrowing nice race wheels from one of those tents one time. So, basically, everything you needed. Plus, it was right next to a nice bar/restaurant, so you could also get some wine if that’s really what you need.
Ever since a volunteer made me a waffle once in the pro/VIP tent at a triathlon, I’ve been unimpressed by post-race food spreads. There was pasta and a bottle of water. It was fine, but, you know, no fresh waffle.
The Goodies: The t-shirt was actually pretty cute this year and I’ve already worn it. Other than that, there weren’t many goodies. Some coupons in a plastic bag and a participation medal at the finish, which we really need to do away with. Aren’t you all adults? Shouldn’t you stop needing to be given participation trophies at this point?
PacGrove does, generally, have prizes for podiuming, gift certificates and the like. So, there’s that extra motivation.
When it comes to goodies, I’m really all about the race photos and these were both mediocre and I couldn’t find them for a week (which is why this race review was delayed). I’m completely blaming that on the race.
The Course: The real thing about this race is the course. You either love it or you hate it.
The 1500m swim (or whatever, because I don’t believe it’s 1500m) is two loops through kelp. The kelp is insane:
There’s no way to practice swimming through kelp. It’ll just suck and you’ll just deal with it. And, then you get out of the water, run around a rock and do it again.
The 24-mile bike is four loops, which is really three miles out, flip a U-turn, three miles back, flip a U-turn.
The 10k run is another three loops, which again is really just about a mile out, run around an orange cone, run just about a mile back, etc. The only annoying part of this is on the way back you actually have to do an extra little uphill section around a park. For some reason, I find that little extra hump on the loop incredibly de-motivating.
Either you’ll go nuts and hate this or you’ll like the repetition. I find that it’s actually kind of mindless — in a good way. I don’t think about anything other than the section I’m on. My only goal is to get to that stupid orange cone marking the U-turn as quickly as possible. And, then, when I’m done with that, I just do the next one. Like intervals. Needless to say: this can go wrong.
It’s all quite pretty, since the whole thing is along the coast and people come to Pacific Grove, by Monterey, to admire that coastal view. So, if you enjoy scenery, you might enjoy the views. But, then, if you’re the type of person who enjoys the scenery along a race course, you probably want the scenery to change some too.
See quite pretty:
The Organization: Ugh. I like TriCalifornia. I think they generally put on good races and also I don’t think they’re an evil corporation trying to take all my money. But, this year, Pacific Grove was sort of super disorganized.
You can imagine with all those laps, it gets really crowded on course. Different waves of people run into each other and people lose track of their laps. This year, it didn’t seem that crowded; I think the waves were spread out to 15′ apart. But, it did seem like more people were miscounting laps and were all over the place. Even though we were the first women’s wave and I was the first woman, there were all these women randomly in front of me or women I had passed would pop back up again ahead. It was very confusing. And, it wasn’t just me who was confused. The results weren’t available at the finish for a few hours and then (until they were fixed a couple days after the race) had someone else winning, who pretty clearly had accidentally skipped laps. And, when I did cross the finish line, the announcers at the time were very confused. They said something like, “Oh, I guess she’s finishing, well, it looks like that’s going to be up there probably as one of our faster women’s times.”
At the time, I thought that was sort of weird. Whatever. But, when I finally did find the photos from the race — which I only found after I Googled “Pacific Grove Triathlon 2013 Photos” because the photo link on their website kept not working — there was a section labeled for “Top Man/Top Woman.” I clicked on it:
Does this look like me?
Apparently, some other girl started an hour ahead of our wave — which I thought was the first women’s wave? — and crossed the line and they thought she won. The only problem is she had the 10th fastest women’s time or something.
This is me at the line:
Important? Probably not. But sort of annoying? Yeah. And pretty disorganized? Definitely.